Happiness Strikes Back

You might be thinking:  “Golly gee, Stew, you always write about such depressing things and never stop complaining.  What could you possibly be happy about?”

Well, I’ll tell you.  I stumbled on a piece of good news:  it turns out my wife Jina and I don’t have to move out of our apartment.  Isn’t that special?  Apparently the landlady balked, so even though we have to pay another thousand dollars or something over the course of a year, we get to stay.  The reason I’m being so vague about it is that I don’t handle these matters since I don’t speak Korean and the landlady doesn’t speak English.  Jina’s my go-to gal for all matters practical.  Even though I gripe about her a lot, without her I’d probably be living in the street.  And, since it’s raining hard today, I wouldn’t want that.

What makes us such a good match is that while she’s batshit crazy, I’m retarded.  The other day we had a light die in our classroom (or have I told you this story already?  if so, I’ll make it brief, as I don’t feel like interrupting the entry to go back and check); she asked me to take the fluorescent tube out of its fixture.  I thought she’d said all the tubes in the room, so I did that instead.  (Miscommunication is a big part of our marriage.)  Doing this, of course, defies common sense, a quality I lack.  Afterwards she asked me if I was stupid in front of two of our students, and we had a yelling match that revved up my heart and made me wonder again whether she is in fact trying to kill me.  The two boys’ jaws dropped and eyes widened at the show, and I apologized to them for losing my cool, taking them into a different room to teach them while Jina heroically fixed the light.  She has connections with God, the inventor of light, so completing the job was a cinch for her.

The other reason I’m grinning up a storm instead of planning my own memorial service is that I was able to save ten bucks on a magazine (Wired–the reason it’s so expensive is it’s imported from the U.S.A.) when I found the cover story I wanted to read online.  I’m sorry I’ve forgotten the author’s name, but the article’s entitled “Apocalypse Not,” and it argues that fears about the end of the world held by a lot of environmentalists are overblown.

Don’t get me wrong:  that doesn’t mean I’m ready to stop feeling guilty about eating meat and go out and have a bunch of kids; it just means I have the capacity to overcome my own dogmatic shortcomings once in awhile.  In his book The World in 2050, Laurence C. Smith gives a balanced, measured look at how global economic and ecological trends mean to reshape the planet we all know and love (and that loves us, because we’re so goddamned lovable).  I’m only about halfway through the book, but I was chagrined to read his prognosis for a lot of the other species we “share” the earth with.

My own feelings about animals are confusing (don’t worry:  I’m not about to make a squirm-inducing confession), because even though I grew up with a menagerie of pets–dogs, cats, rabbits, parakeets, hamsters–I also enjoy the taste of meat and regularly shovel large portions of the stuff into my maw.  It’s a vile vice, but I just can’t seem to stop, no matter how much I read of the horrors of factory farms and the fishing industry.

You know the actor who starred in the movie Babe, and also played the bad guy in L. A. Confidential and George Bush, Sr. in Oliver Stone’s W?  James Cromwell–that’s it!  He said in an interview with The Progressive magazine that he’s either a vegan or a vegetarian–I forget which (naturally).  When asked how he came to stop eating meat, he said all it took was one visit to a slaughterhouse.

Maybe that’s what I need to do.  Unfortunately, according to Jonathan Safran Foer, author of the gut-wrenching and spellbinding Eating Animals, the places are off-limits.  Shucks, I wonder why.  Could it have anything to do with the old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind”?

In his book, Smith’s vision of the future isn’t unremittingly bleak.  He says that the Northern Hemisphere will flourish and prosper (so what else is new?) as the places that are now uninhabitably frigid, such as Siberia, Alaska, Greenland, and northern Canada, will become agreeably balmy.

By the way, Hawkman’s secret identity is Vladimir Putin.  Please don’t tell him I said so though; I don’t want him to poop in my hair while he’s flying overhead.

Be the day you want to have.

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